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Hemp Tops Legislators’ Interest for Summer Studies

Senator Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) is already too busy polishing his go-karts to bother filling out the Legislature’s summer study survey. But with Lake Kampeska bearing down him, Senator Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Lake Kampeska) still had time to join a slim quorum of 57 legislators in signaling what they’d like to study in the 2019 Interim. Given just eight proposed topics, the legislators who spoke up produced what looks like a strong aggregate opinion that they are most interested in studying industrial hemp:

SD Legislature, 2019 Interim Study Survey Results, retrieved from LRC website, 2019.03.29.
SD Legislature, 2019 Interim Study Survey Results, Executive Board documents, retrieved 2019.03.29.

The Senate and House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees propose to “study the regulation and cost of implementing an industrial hemp program.” They and a bunch of other legislators want to know, “What are the economic impacts of the production and sale of industrial hemp? What are potential costs or challenges for law enforcement?” and “Study requirements for registration, licenses and permits; [sic]* as well as seed certification and access.”

The hemp study scored 183 points, beating the pants off Rep. Taffy Howard’s (R-33/Rapid City) proposals to study meth and property taxes (which I suspect she views with equal disdain).

But wait! It looks like Senators Alan Solano (R-32/Rapid City) and Jordan Youngberg (R-8/Madison) tried to rig the vote!

2019 Interim Survey Ranking by Member, in Executive Board documents, retrieved 2019.03.29.
2019 Interim Survey Ranking by Member, in Executive Board documents, retrieved 2019.03.29.

Members were apparently asked to rank up to five choices, which LRC then scored in reverse order: 5 points for a “1” ranking, 4 points for a “2” ranking, on down to 1 point for a “5”. By that scheme, a “15” ranking ought to give –9 points, but by my count, it looks like LRC properly scored the other rankings for 153 points, then just added 15 each for Solano’s and Youngberg’s inexplicable rankings.

Even if we strike those two errant figures (hey, Kristi! Don’t read that phrase as riot boosting…), the hemp study still comes out the top choice at 153 points. Meth is second. Property tax reduction is third. Expect the committee to shoot down the property tax proposal, because Rep. Howard’s proposed scope includes the poison pill of funding property tax relief by repealing sales tax exemptions, of which there are $1.456 billion, each with a passionate lobby behind it who will tell you the economy and republic will collapse if they don’t get to skip paying sales taxes on their industry’s figurative bread and butter even while you and your grandma pay sales tax on your literal bread and butter.

Rep. Howard also wanted to study the history of programs originally funded by federal grants that have turned into state expenditures, but that proposal received little enthusiasm (Howard’s fellow conservative Rep. Drew Dennert tried to nuke it with a 9). Other study topics with little traction were rookie Rep. Carl Perry’s desire to study vaping and discourage youth from taking up that nasty habit, rookie Rep. Chris Johnson’s interest in studying brain injuries (perhaps motivated by his first firsthand experience with other legislators in Pierre), and Senator Reynold Nesiba’s proposal to study the impacts of continuing to resist offering driver license exams in other languages and whether we could just print those exams in Spanish under current law.

Keep in mind, as we saw last year, the Executive Board isn’t bound by this survey any more than it is bound by the democratic will of the people. This afternoon, the E-Board will choose to study whatever it darn well pleases.

*Grammar note: this is not a place for a semicolon. Semicolons have only two proper uses: separating items in a punctuationally complicated list (i.e., a list in which at least one non-ultimate item includes a comma), and joining two independent clauses (items that could stand on their own as sentences) with some logical connection. The phrase “as well as” will never be preceded by a semicolon.


  1. Debbo 2019-03-29

    “Rep. Chris Johnson’s interest in studying brain injuries (perhaps motivated by his first firsthand experience with other legislators in Pierre).”

    Overall, it looks like a good list. I’d pay more attention to the vaping problem.
    Hemp, meth, vaping, wind & solar is my ranked list.

  2. Mark 2019-03-30

    The only study that pertains to hemp
    that needs to take place is a psychiatric
    evaluation of what in the world goes on
    in Kristyland.

  3. Debbo 2019-03-30

    Maybe farmers should join RtoL and demand to listen to Noem’s chest for a heartbeat.

    (Yeah, that was snarky and mean. I feel a smidgen of regret, but not too much, especially when I think about how much of a struggle and stress she’s putting farmers through.)

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